Pandemic solutions for Alþingi election

20.09.2021 - 15:15
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: RÚV
Iceland goes to the polls this Saturday, but more voters than ever have already cast their ballots in early voting. Additionally, people in COVID-19 quarantine or isolation will be able to vote from their cars or even their homes, under special new temporary election laws that aim to maintain privacy and security—albeit in a low-tech way. Electronic voting is not allowed.

Around 19,000 people have cast early ballots already, with one week until polling day; including around 13,000 through the capital region district commissioner (Sýslumaðurinn). “It is as much as double here through the district commissioner’s office in the capital region,” says district commissioner Sigríður Kristinsdóttir. "It is more than we have seen in Althingi elections before, but it is similar to what we see when there are presidential elections.”

Sigríður says the coronavirus pandemic partly explains it. People worry they may be in quarantine or isolation on polling day and then some candidates have encouraged voters to vote in this manner.

Voters who will be in quarantine or isolation on polling day will be able to vote in their cars at special outside voting facilities, which, in the capital, is at Skarfagarðar 8. 

“The way it works is you pull up here, show your ID and your face and after that’s finished you go into the voting booth here. The curtains are drawn, and you show the returning officer how you want to vote,” Sigríður explained. Voters write down on a piece of paper how they want to vote and show it to the returning officer through their closed car window. To vote in this manner, people need to have their ID ready, their voting intention decided, and remember to not open their door or window.

Those who cannot vote by car either need to apply to be able to vote at home. Two returning officers will arrive at the voter’s home, either at a window or in a stairwell, and it is possible to fence off the area around the window.

Do you think it would have been better to open the law up for electronic voting, rather than going through all this process?
“I have no opinion on that,” Sigríður says, breaking into a wide smile.

About the election    

All Icelandic citizens (ríkisborgarar) aged over 18 are eligible to vote.      

The Multicultural and Information Centre has created a comprehensive election website in English, which can be seen here.     

With just days to go until the 25th September election, RÚV English is covering politics almost every day under the “Election 2021” tag. There will be an election special of The Week in Iceland today, and live election night coverage.    

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